This is the Bose product a lot of people have been waiting for: the QuietComfort 35, an active noise-canceling headphone that's also wireless.
At $350 (£290, AU$499), it costs more than the wired QuietComfort 25. But at least it's only a $50 price bump, which puts this around what Beats' competing Studio Wireless costs. (That 2014 headphone has been discounted in recent months, however, indicating Beats probably has something new coming.)
While the QC35 is very similar looking to the QC25 and is relatively lightweight, it is heavier than the QC25, weighing in at 8.3 ounces or 236 grams vs. 6.9 ounces or 196 grams. The one significant exterior design change Bose has made is to widen the headband, which makes for a little more stable fit with perhaps some added sturdiness.
With microphones inside and outside the earcups, Bose says the QC35 senses, measures and sends unwanted sounds to two proprietary digital electronic chips — one for each ear — that respond with a precise, equal and opposite signal in less than a fraction of a millisecond. According to Bose, the headphone is also equipped with a new digital equalizing system that balances the sound, whether you're listening at lower or higher volumes.
Battery life is rated at 20 hours, which is quite good. However, Bose has moved to an integrated rechargeable battery from the the QC25's AAA removable battery configuration. (Bose's SoundLink Around-Ear Wireless Headphones II also uses an integrated rechargeable battery.) I personally don't have a problem with the change — and don't like having to buy new batteries — but some people prefer their powered headphones to use standard batteries so you can swap in a new one should the headphone die, say, mid-flight. Also, rechargeable batteries only have so many charges in them, and while the one in the QC35 should last several years, it's not user-replaceable. (By comparison, the Parrot Zik has a removable, rechargeable battery.)
The good news is the headphone does work as a wired headphone if the battery runs out of juice (a 47.2-inch cord is included — it's slimmer than the one that comes with the QC25 and has no integrated microphone). You just can't use the noise-canceling or Bluetooth, of course, but at least you can get some sound out of it, and the tight seal of the ear cups does provide a fair amount of noise isolation. As a passive headphone, the QC35 sounds decent — just not $350 decent. When powered on, the digital processing and equalization features do smooth things out and improve the sound, so it's best used it as a powered headphone.
It's also worth noting that it's important to have the corded option for airplane use. Some airlines will still restrict you from using Bluetooth headphones during portions of the flight, and a cord is necessary to plug into your seat's in-flight entertainment system. Thats' the one drawback of Bose's upcoming QuietControl 30 in-ear Bluetooth headphone with variable noise-canceling: it can only be used as a wireless headphone and has no corded option.
As for other features, there's an integrated remote on the right earcup with buttons for adjusting the volume, controlling playback and answering and ending calls. The QC35 also works with Bose's free Connect app for iOS and Android devices, and I didn't have any trouble pairing the headphone with an iPhone 6S, Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge and and MacBook Air (you can pair the headphone with two devices at the same time and jump back and forth between them).
Bose may add features to the Connect app in the future, but currently it's pretty basic: It allows you to manage your pairing list, upgrade the firmware and change the auto power off settings (the headphone powers down if you don't use it for a certain length of time, which is a good battery-saving feature). When you turn on the headphones, a female voice advises you of how much battery life is remaining and with which devices you're paired. That information is also available in the app.
Bose QuietComfort 35 (pictures) See full gallery
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Available in silver or black, the QC35 is designed to be used as an advanced wireless headset, and it muffles ambient sounds like wind and crowd noise so callers can hear you better — and vice versa. There's also a side-tone feature that allows you to hear your own voice in the headphones as you speak so you don't raise your voice while talking.
It works really well as a headset and is great for conference calls (I'm on one as I write this). It's superior to the QC25 in this regard.
Best noise-canceling, excellent sound for Bluetooth
The QC35 may not be the best-sounding Bluetooth headphone out there, but it's certainly among them. I spent most of my time comparing it to the Sennheiser Momentum Wireless and the Beats Studio Wireless, both of which are Bluetooth headphones that feature active noise-canceling (the Parrot Zik 3 and Sony H.ear on Wireless NC do, too).